Thu | Jun 20, 2019

Solid display will satisfy new boy Fraser

Published:Thursday | February 21, 2019 | 12:14 AMOrville Higgins/Gleaner Writer
Offspinner Akim Fraser, batting in the nets at Sabina Park yesterday, is set to make his debut for the Jamaica Scorpions today.
Offspinner Akim Fraser, batting in the nets at Sabina Park yesterday, is set to make his debut for the Jamaica Scorpions today.

For 23-year-old offspinner Akim Fraser, all is well and right with the world. The former Jamaica College standout has earned his first call-up to the Jamaica Scorpions squad for their regional-four day clash against defending champions the Guyana Jaguars, which starts at Sabina Park today. The journey has been a long one for Fraser. He first started playing cricket as a youngster growing up at Stadium Gardens. He excelled at the game to the point where he captained Jessie Ripoll Primary and was seen by many as a future star. He was a medium pacer in those early days but converted to off spin when his father took him to a training session at Kingston club. He figured that his military medium would have no impact on the Kingston batsmen and started bowling off spin. He found that he was getting spin and bounce and decided to stick with off spin.

Fraser continued to shine with both bat and ball while attending Jamaica College and captained the team to the 2014 Grace Shield final, where JC lost to Eltham High. Despite his team losing, the tall offspinner had a good game, taking 12 wickets in the match. He took 56 wickets all told in his final year at JC and was clearly destined for bigger things.

Ups and downs

It hasn’t been the smoothest of rides. He was called up for the Jamaica Under-15 team but went abroad during the time of the trials and was not able to show what he could do. He made the Jamaica Under-17 team but got only limited appearances as his captain was Ramaal Lewis, another off spinning all-rounder, who was preferred for much of the tournament. He was also called to the national Under-19 trials four years ago, but by his own account, just didn’t bowl well and did not make the team.

Undaunted by his limited time in national age-group colours, Fraser kept improving at the senior cup level. He first represented Kingston before winning a scholarship to the University of The West Indies (UWI) for which he now plies his trade. In between his studies in marketing, he started to put in serious hours working on his off spin. While his batting fell off, he started to become a handful for local batsmen and gained the selectors’ respect when he took eight for 95 for the UWI against Melbourne in a losing cause in the Senior Cup final last year, finishing the season with 32 wickets overall.| In franchise cricket for the Combined Colleges team this season, Fraser has continued to impress, finishing with 37 wickets, and continued to lay claim to being the best offspinner around. Two days ago, he got the life changing news that he had been selected for bigger things. “I was elated upon receiving news of the call-up. I was doing a fielding session, and on coming off the field, I saw two missed calls from the chairman of selectors. The whole day I was actually nervous. I knew we were going to play Guyana at home. The Guyanese have six or seven left-handers, and I knew it would be likely an offspinner would come in the squad, but I wasn’t sure it was me.”

A call-back to the chairman of selectors confirmed what he suspected. He was now part of the 13-man squad to face the Jaguars. “I did not know how to feel. I was lost for words really. You work so hard for moments like these in your career.

I felt overwhelmed when it finally came,” Fraser said. The well-spoken offspinner is not putting any pressure on himself to get a bag full of wickets in his expected debut today. “Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. I’m not thinking of a five– ,or six, or seven-wicket haul. Once I put in a solid performance and the team performs well, I will be satisfied with that,” he said.